August 22, 2004

We Can Do FAR Better

Kerry’s new ad speaks for itself. Check it out.

The phrase in this new ad “We can do better” reminded me of a recent post on Mike James’ Tread Lightly On The Things Of The Earth. And this led me to another weblog entirely, and thinking about the choice between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.

I stop by Tread Lightly now and again because I like Mr. James’ sincerity, and he wears his heart on his blog. Also, he has a great sideblog with links (I have got to get mine working again). In this particular post, he quotes from The Village Gate. Formerly The Right Christians, The Village Gate transformed a weblog into a community for religious progressives. These are sincere religious folks with a progressive, rather than conservative, attitude toward their faith.

As for what that means, the way I see it described on their website is in counterpoint to the “religious right.” The original “Right Christians” moniker was a play on “Christian Right.” I thought the following comment on an entry apt:

Space aliens have taken over my religion and I don’t give two hoots and a damn why. I just want them to stop. Concrete ideas urgently needed!

I have to feel for these people. If I had a religion, I wouldn’t want the sort of folks she’s frustrated with speaking for me or representing me in the media.

But let’s look back at the quote that got me to The Village Gate in the first place:

Here’s the quote from the entry that got me there:

Ultimately, this election persists in becoming an intelligence test for the American people. It�s not only on policy matters, either. Do we still have the moral discernment to detect the difference between a total fake and a flawed but honorable and competent human being?

By intelligence test I think he means an all-around ability to sift through the information hurled at us during the election process. He has highlighted something that many of us Kerry supporters believe. Kerry isn’t the best of all possible presidents. He, (in fact like many people) is flawed. But we find his flaws to be minor compared to Bush’s marching us in the wrong direction in his efforts to consolidate the religious right / pseudo-conservative base and fulfill his own priority to get Saddam.

I agree. This election is a test. As Bush engages in dirty tricks through a network of rich family friends backing attacks on Kerry, how many people will decide that’s not the way they want their president to work?

Giving Bush the most possible benefit of the doubt, if it was important in the course of the world to go half-cocked into Iraq, that time has passed. The man who failed to plan for the peace needs to go and let someone who can more effectively energize and enlist the essential international help without which there is no war on terror.

If there was a reason to deficit spend as if there is no tomorrow (never mind evoking the near-term Armageddon fantasies of Pentecostal Christians) and shift the tax burden away from the wealthy and toward the middle class, that time has passed. The man who touts education reform while starving educational programs yet still grows the deficit needs to go. Let someone in who may not get very far with a conservative congress, but has experience finding common ground.

If there was a reason to cast a chilling effect on scientific research by, among other things, refusing to fund what promises to be the next big advance in medical scientific knowledge, that reason is over and now we need to play catch-up. The man who lied to us about the number of available stem cell lines just so that Karl Rove could throw a bone to the people who failed to come out and vote in 2000 needs to go. Give us someone who will craft a scientific policy that does not kowtow to religious extremism.

Alright, that little bit of speechifying is over, so I can talk a little more about what I found on The Village Gate. The quote that drew me there was part of this story, which I haven’t read elsewhere, about a Bush and RNC religious advisor who recently resigned. Deal Hudson is described by the National Catholic Reporter as “a 54-year-old, thrice-married former Baptist minister, is a regular White House visitor, a leading Bush campaign Catholic proxy, and a widely quoted partisan unafraid to use his pen to serve the Bush cause.”

In short, he was a public moralizer whom Bush and the DNC relied on, specifically as a liaison to Catholicism.

It turns out that public moralizing wasn’t his only hobby. He left Fordham University and paid a settlement of $30K in 1994 after
is came out that he manipulated underage female students into drunken sexual encounters. I can see why Bush felt a kinship with this guy.

Anyhow, as an atheist who has morals it’s good to read religious folks who have morals calling out the loudmouth holier-than-thou Bush advisor’s who contribute to his administration’s God Squad.

Also found on The Village Gate, it turns out that God can transubstantiate a wheat wafer into his body, but he can’t do the same for a rice wafer to allow a Celiac sufferer to receive communion. Not only that, but after the little girl in the story already received her First Communion (with the rice wafer) the Church came back at her to tell her: “Oh, by the way. Your First Communion is null and void. Her mother (also a Celiac’s Disease sufferer) got to tell her daughter that she hadn’t actually received the sacrament after all.

In any case, I’ve this group blog to my Bloglines list.

More links:

Posted by James at August 22, 2004 10:30 AM
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I asked my sister about the Communion wafer thing. Apparently, someone makes wafers that have extremely low gluten content but have enough to be "acceptable" to the Church.

Fortunately for my sister, these wafers don't make her sick, but I know not everyone is so lucky. Anyway, in order for this to work, she has to buy these wafers herself and bring one to Mass in a special container. It has to be kept in this special container so that it does not contact any of the regular wafers.

There's additional "special" treatment involved as well. She admits that it is a pain in the butt, but since it works for her, she considers the problem solved and doesn't seem to think the girl is being treated unfairly.

There is a similar policy about wine for alcoholics. In ceremonies where both the bread and wine are required, you have to drink something that has fermented grapes in it, even if you are an alcoholic. The concentration of alcohol may be extremely low in the "acceptable" alternative drink for alcoholics, but I think that is beside the point.

I don't think your religion should require you to eat things that will make you sick or even kill you, or cause you to feel that you have to choose between Jesus and staying on the wagon.

Posted by: Julie at August 22, 2004 1:36 PM

The communion wafer thing is unbelievable. Does the Church actually *want* people in their religion? How long do they think it's going to last with rules that make no sense? Granted, they are at an advantage in that the people who are naturally attracted to the religion have already thrown reason out the door. But James and I were joking around that God is almighty, but He can only turn glutenous crackers into the body of Christ. Pay no attention to that deity behind the curtain.

I have a charming communion wafer story. My grandfather was an Episcopal minister, and Episcopals, like Catholics, take communion. I guess one Sunday morning my grandfather came downstairs to discover that my uncle, a young boy at the time, was hungry and had found and eaten all of the communion wafers. My father remembers my grandfather hurriedly consecrating slices of bread from the kitchen. No doubt everyone who partook of it is in hell now or well on their way. (Although, of course, it did have gluten, so maybe they're okay.)

Posted by: Maggie at August 22, 2004 5:49 PM

Did your uncle get a free pass from church for the next month?

Posted by: Mike at August 22, 2004 6:45 PM

God *could* transubstantiate the non-gluten wafer. He just didn't want to.

So there!

I suppose that from the church's point of view, veering at all from their rules is presuming god's mind. In other words, it's like saying "God will understand." But you can say that about anything and you have no idea whether god will understand.

I guess we all have to find our own solution to that problem. Mine is to be an atheist. Problem solved. Then you have to look for other reasons, other than god, to justify things. New problem. But at least then I can say that a rule is stupid without blaspheming.

Posted by: James at August 22, 2004 8:35 PM

It's supposed to be UNleavened bread... so if Grampy was using regular loaf bread then someone's in big trouble.

God, being omniscient as well as omnipotent, really would understand. But I suppose he wouldn't have to like it. He'd have to be all-merciful as well. Hey, wait...

Posted by: Julie at August 23, 2004 8:52 AM

Besides, isn't that what the Pope is for? Haven't we presumed god's mind in the past? What about no meat on Fridays? Wasn't that put in place by one of the early Popes?

Posted by: briwei at August 23, 2004 12:02 PM

Will the Pope can come to the rescue? Tune in next week and find out! Or something like that.

Posted by: James at August 23, 2004 1:10 PM

Letting people use the "special" low-gluten hosts is probably about as close to a rescue as the Pope is going to get. But the girl's mother is working with a cardinal to get an exception.

Posted by: Julie at August 23, 2004 1:20 PM

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